Turning the tide on marine pollution

(c) Unsplash

What we're doing to tackle pollution in our oceans - and how you can help.

The equivalent of a rubbish lorry full of plastic enters the sea every minute.

  • It takes on average 500 years for a plastic bottle to break down
  • Around 70% of all the litter in the oceans is made of plastic
  • Around 250 species are known to have become entangled in plastic debris
  • Around 300 species are known to ingest plastic litter in the environment
  • 20,000 tonnes of plastic are dumped into the North Sea every year and only 15% of that is washed ashore.
  • A fifth of marine litter is made up of fishing gear and other material lost at sea - the rest comes from land.

People visiting beaches and leaving behind their bottles, food packaging and cigarette butts on the sand directly contribute to plastic getting into the ocean.

With your help, the tide is turning.

Many of us have watched programmes like Blue Planet 2 and we have received a fantastic surge of enquiries from people wanting to do their bit. Here's what we're doing, and how you can help.

Beach cleaning

1) Get involved in a beach clean

Our Waves of Waste (WoW) scheme is a project that supports volunteers to take ownership of their local beach and run regular beach cleans. During each clean they record the litter collected, which is recorded on a national database to determine any trends.

We have gone from having three regular WoW coordinators to seven, spanning across six beaches in East and North Yorkshire.

These fantastic groups have already carried out 15 cleans in 2018 and have lots more in the diary. North Seas Wildlife Trust has also arranged 30 cleans over six beaches in the last year, working with at least 446 volunteers and collected over 120 bags of rubbish.

2) Reduce your use of plastics

It's vital that we reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our oceans in the first place. Luckily, plastic-free alternatives to many everyday objects are becoming more and more common, meaning it's easy to make the switch.

Consider investing in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup or buying loose fruit and veg as a start. Browse plastic-free products in our shop.

Monster Munch Packet

Monster Munch packet from 1986 washed up on the beach last year

3) Organise a 'Wild Work Day'

It’s been great to see an increase in corporate groups wanting to volunteer and help the marine environment too. We have carried out eight cleans with various companies including Morrisons, who brought 40 of their employees including their CEO!

Find out more about our Wild Work Days.

4) Know any fishermen? Let them know about 'Fishing 4 Litter'

Our Fishing 4 Litter project with local fishermen is also resulting in more litter being captured. We place and empty dedicated bins solely for marine litter or discarded fishing gear at various ports and harbours.

Fishing 4 Litter rubbish bags

If you would like to get involved with any of our events, or find out more about how you can help to protect our oceans, please email: livingseas@ywt.org.uk